Except in the case of documents with numbered paragraphs, when it is obvious from the numbering that material has been omitted, diamonds (♦) are used to indicate the omission of one or more paragraphs.
Refugees and Displaced Persons in the Wake of Battle
The care and disposition of refugees and displaced persons was one of the most perplexing of civil affairs problems. Though the problem had many ramifications some of the principal difficulties arose from certain false assumptions. In the planning stage the civil affairs staffs were obliged to proceed on very meager intelligence as to the nature and extent of the problem. In estimating the number of displaced persons, for example, the governments-in exile sometimes deliberately exaggerated in order to lead the Germans to believe they had exhausted the supply of slave labor or to cover the activities of the underground. Another complicating factor in planning was the variety of classes of uprooted people to be dealt with. In addition to displaced persons and refugees, there were stateless persons-those who had no governmental allegiance because their own national government, whether Allied or enemy, no longer existed. There were also borderline cases, individuals native to an area close to international frontiers who did not know to which group they belonged. An example of these were the residents of Eupen and Malmedy, many of whom had lived under German, then Belgian, then German, and finally Belgian authority. All these various classes required special consideration and made planning exceedingly complicated. Still another false assumption was that the displaced persons generally would be tractable and acquiescent. When liberation came, they in numerous cases in fact exhibited what came to be called a "liberation complex," a psychological malaise that made its victims very difficult to handle.
Probably the main error was the assumption that after the combat troops had left behind settled rear zones the various national governments could handle the problem. Modern warfare is apt to monopolize most of the economic resources of a country. In a nation which is conducting warfare, or in which military operations are being carried on, the armed forces have control over, or prior claim on, all communications, facilities, and supplies. Under these circumstances it was unrealistic to expect the recently liberated governments to assume, unaided, such a huge undertaking as the care and repatriation of displaced persons. Experience showed that it was necessary for the military forces to assist civilian governments with specially trained personnel, supplies, and facilities. Thus, by a certain point in the operations, policy had so evolved that, in addition to the direct responsibility assumed in forward zones and in care for stateless persons, military authorities were advising and assisting the French and other governments in reception centers, supply depots, and transit centers which had been established near their borders for all returning persons liberated by the advance into Germany.
1. CIVILIANS BECOME A SERIOUS PROBLEM IN FRANCE DURING RAPID ARMY ADVANCE
REFUGEES AND DISPLACED PERSONS: DEFINITION AND POLICY
[SHAEF Fld Handbook of CA, France, rev ed., 26 Aug 44, SHAEF files, G-5, 115.04]
210. General Definition.
a. Refugees are civilians not outside the national boundaries of their country, who desire to return to their homes but require assistance to do so and are:
(i) temporarily homeless because of military operations: or
(ii) at some distance from their homes for reasons related to the war.
b. Displaced Persons are civilians outside the national
boundaries of their country by reason of the war:
(i) who are desirous but unable to return, or to find homes without assistance; or
(ii) who are to be returned to enemy or ex-enemy territory. ♦ ♦ ♦
212. The policy of the Supreme Commander with regard to refugees and
displaced persons is:
a. To prevent any hindrance to Military operations which might be occasioned by their massing or uncontrolled movement.
b. To prevent the infiltration of enemy agents posing as refugees or displaced persons.
c. To prevent outbreaks of disease among refugees and displaced persons which might threaten the health of the military forces.
d. To relieve, as far as practicable, conditions of destitution among refugees and displaced persons which might adversely affect military operations.
e. To assist the French authorities, when the military situation permits, to set up an organization to effect the rapid and orderly repatriation of displaced persons. ♦ ♦ ♦
FRENCH WILL HAVE FULL RESPONSIBILITY
[SHAEF Fld Handbook of CA, Fr, rev ed., 26 Aug 44]
213. The French authorities will have full responsibility for refugees and displaced persons. However, in the Forward Zone in emergencies affecting military operations or where no French authority is in a position to put into effect the measures deemed necessary by commanders, the latter may as a temporary and exceptional measure take such action as is required by military necessity. Moreover, in Military Zones, commanders may take, or cause the services in charge of installations of military importance to take, such measures as are necessary for the conduct of operations and, in particular, those necessary to assure the security and efficient operation of such installations. ♦ ♦ ♦
No GREAT DIFFICULTIES IN THE EARLY DAYS
[The General Board USFET, Study 35: Displaced Persons, Refugees and Recovered Allied Military Personnel, OCMH files]
Displaced Persons Operations, D to D Plus 45
a. The bulk of the operations during this period involved French refugees rather than displaced persons. As had been forecast, portions of the population in the area occupied prior to D plus 45 had been evacuated. Within a few days after the capture of each town, the civil population began filtering back and on an average, towns had from 25 to 30 per cent of their normal population by the tenth day after liberation. The immediate problems were food, housing and health. As the operations took place in summertime, it had been expected that shelter would not be a major problem. The continuous rains following D-Day, however, made shelter an early problem. Improvisation of shelter from ruined buildings was hampered by the extensive booby-trapping engaged in by the Germans. Few relief supplies were available, but French local authorities appointed by Civil Affairs, utilized indigenous supplies to feed the civil population and also distributed the limited imported supplies.
b. The displaced persons uncovered included former members of the Organization Todt, who were treated as prisoners of war. Plans for the evacuation of displaced persons and refugees to England were not invoked. No large-scale attempt was detected, on the part of the Germans, to push large numbers of civilians through the lines to embarrass our effort.
c. A large number of French refugees were rapidly absorbed into normal civilian community life. Towns were placed "off limits" to military personnel, a move which had, among others, the effect of conserving the limited food supplies available for civilians.
d. Fortunately, few problems in public health arose. Exposure to the elements resulted in some temporary illnesses, but no epidemics were reported.
e. During this period, two displaced persons camps were opened, one in the vicinity of Cher-
bourg and one in the vicinity of St. Mere Eglise . . . These camps accommodated both displaced persons and refugees and were operated by the First Army. As the advance progressed further to the south, it was necessary to open successive displaced persons centers, and as rapidly as possible refugees were dispersed and absorbed into the civilian population. ♦ ♦ ♦
IN A RAPID ADVANCE, STANDFAST ORDERS CANNOT BE ENFORCED
[AAR of Civil Affairs and Military Government in OVERLORD and ECLIPSE Operations 1944-45, sec. X, SHAEF files, G-5, Hq 12th AGp]
c. After the breakthrough at St. Lo, over a quarter of a million refugees were uncovered in a few days. Soon after their liberation, the refugees attempted to return to their homes unaided. The control of their movements became a greater problem because the number greatly exceeded capacity of the military transport available for their movement. At first, orders were issued that the refugees were to stand fast until transport to their homes could be arranged. It was soon evident that standfast orders could not be enforced, and plans were made to control rather than to stop the movement of refugees. ♦ ♦ ♦
CONTROL ROUTES ESTABLISHED
(AAR, G-5, Third U.S. Army, ch. 3, sec. IV, Gen Bd files, dr. 634]
♦ ♦ ♦ The rapid movement of the Army resulted in the by-passing of many communities, leaving the local government and homes relatively intact in many of them so that local authorities were available and local resources adequate to care for the problem of refugees. It was both undesirable and unnecessary to establish formal Collection Points or permanent facilities for care of refugees under these conditions. Moreover, no opportunity developed for identification and separation of refugees from displaced persons and the establishment of permanent assembly Centers for displaced persons.
On the other hand, the necessity did arise of establishing routes over which refugees could move without obstructing Army operations and supply. Beginning 8 August, Detachments C112 and D212 were detailed to plot such routes. Upon being approved by G-4 Traffic Control Section, the selected roads were posted with signs reading Route Autorisée Aux Civils. Before the month's close they extended from Gavray .. . to Rennes . . . as the southern extremity, and from Rennes . . . to Pithiviers. ♦ ♦ ♦
Detachments reported in almost all communities refugees varying in number from small groups to several thousands. Operating through the Maires, Secours National and the Croix Rouge Francaise, in most instances the Detachments were able to have the refugees billeted and fed without other military assistance. Only in two instances was it necessary to furnish relief supplies. ♦ ♦ ♦
GERMANS ATTEMPT TO HAMPER ALLIED OPERATIONS BY DISGORGING
REFUGEES AND DISPLACED PERSONS
[AAR, G-5, Third U.S. Army, ch. 3, sec. IV]
♦ ♦ ♦ A special problem developed in the vicinity of Brest . . . when the Germans expelled the city's civilian population in the probable hope of embarrassing the American forces. Detachment CI 12 was dispatched to this area and the G-5 Refugee officer, together with a French liaison officer, surveyed the area. Instructions were issued to the 'Maires and the Chief of Gendarmes of each community to clear the main highways and route individuals to communities where billeting facilities still existed. Six thousand refugees were entrained from Landerneau . . . to Morlaix. . . . The refugees which came through the German lines were excellently handled by the French authorities, with the assistance of four women of the Military Liaison for Administrative Matters, through dispersal and billeting in nearby communities. Detachment CI12 provided emergency hard rations, which included soap, codfish, pulses, biscuits, meat, milk and chocolate. Its officers coordinated the work of the Maires. The Secours National established emergency feeding stations where necessary and a total of 24,000 refugees were cared for without interference to military operations or supply, and without suffering to the individuals. ♦ ♦ ♦
TURNOVER OF THE, CAMPS TO FRENCH GENERALLY RESULTS IN A SUPPLY PROBLEM
[M.. Forestier, Chief of Mission of French Provisional Govt Delegation, Copy of Report on Inspection of Refugee Camps in France, Aug 44, 1 SHAEF files, G-5, 2749-4, DP Branch]
♦ ♦ ♦ In the battle zone, at proximity of the line of battle, SHAEF organizes transit camps in which all refugees are sent for three or four days, and are then sent to more permanent dwellings. The Free French Volunteers consisting of women are in charge of these camps under the immediate authority of the Allies. Furthermore, M. Le Gat is authorized to choose all additional civil help
needed to carry on duties and all further suggestions are accepted.
Later on, as the front line goes forward, these camps are considered rear camps, the Military Authorities transferring all responsibilities of the camps to the French Civil Authorities. The people then use these camps as a more permanent place and keep all refugees until homes can be found for them.
The supplies sent to these camps is done marvelously by the Allied military authorities, while they are held responsible. Rations issued vary from the part of the country you are in but are in all cases quite sufficient and even reach a figure of 4,000 calories in certain camps.
Medical supplies and chemical supplies are also brought by
the Allies and all sanitary installations and dispensaries are infallible.
The only difficulty so far is the transfer of Military authorities to the French civilian authorities.
I have, however, insisted so as a maximum of supplies is left by the Military authorities when they leave camp, and so far the greatest demand is for tents, camp beds or similar equipment. It is, in fact, often the case when refugees, upon arrival, have to sleep on some straw or, even worse, on the floor. ♦ ♦ ♦
CIVILIAN INTERNMENT CAMPS UNCOVERED
[AAR of CA and Mil Govt in OVERLORD and ECLIPSE Opns 1944-45]
c. Two large civilian internment camps were uncovered in September. One was located at Clermont and the other at Vittel. These camps contained approximately 4,300 civilian internees including nationals of the United States, Great Britain and other Allied countries. A Civil Affairs detachment was placed in charge of the Clermont camp and provided for the care of the internees until they could be returned to their homes or evacuated to Paris. Two Civil Affairs detachments assisted by American Red Cross personnel took charge of the Vittel camp upon its liberation. This personnel supervised the care of the internees until they could be sent to their homes or evacuated elsewhere. ♦ ♦ ♦
ADVANCE TO GERMAN FRONTIERS INCREASES THE DP PROBLEM
[AAR of CA and Mil Govt in OVERLORD and ECLIPSE Opns 1944-45]
d. With the advent of winter and the fighting along the frontiers of Germany,
the refugee and displaced persons problem became more serious....
e. The occupation of the Moselle industrial area resulted in increases in the number of Allied displaced persons in the Army Group area. Because of the lack of sufficient billeting space for troops, destruction of homes by combat, and the presence of considerable numbers of foreign workers, it was necessary to move about 40,000 Russian and Polish displaced persons out of Army Group area during the months of November and December. These displaced persons were sent to camps in the Communications Zone in the vicinity of Troyes, Orleans, Provins, Chaumont, Chalons-sur-Marne and Clermont Ferrand.
f. The establishment of a stable battle line near the frontier of Germany resulted in the evacuation for security reasons of German nationals in the immediate battle area. Approximately 10,000 Germans were moved into Belgium from the Belgo-German Border and placed in camps under the supervision and control of Civil Affairs detachments. ♦ ♦ ♦
EXPERIENCE SHOWS THE NEED FOR SPECIALLY TRAINED PERSONNEL
[AAR of CA and Mil Govt in OVERLORD and ECLIPSE Opns 1944-45]
5. a. Prior to the invasion no special personnel were earmarked for the care and control of refugees and displaced persons, as Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force considered the care and control of refugees to be a general Civil Affairs or Military Government function. However, operational experience soon indicated the use of specially trained personnel for this purpose to be highly desirable. As a result, eight Civil Affairs detachments were earmarked and used by the Armies primarily for handling refugees and displaced persons. These detachments were assisted by American Red Cross personnel, Mission Militaire Liaison Administrative Welfare teams (MMLA) and Allied Liaison Officers for repatriation. By the end of the period D plus i8o, approximately 65 American Red Cross personnel, 16 MMLA teams (each consisting of five trained and experienced French militarized female workers, and a male driver), 4 Dutch Liaison Officers for Repatriation, and 21 Polish Liaison Officers for Repatriation were on duty in the Army Group area. These assisted in the handling of refugees and displaced persons. ♦ ♦ ♦
2. DELEGATION OF THE PROBLEM DOES NOT WORK
BELGIANS ASSUME PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR DISPLACED PERSONS
[Ltr, Tschoffen, Chief, Belgium Mil Mission to Gullion, Chief, DP Branch, G-5, SHAEF 1 Sep 44, SHAEF files, G-5, 17.02, SHAEF Mission Belgium Final Rpt, pt. I]
Following the conference held on the 10th July 1944 at Norfolk House, and referring to the wish expressed by your Deputy to have the agreed undertakings by the Belgian Government confirmed by letter, I summarize hereunder these undertakings which are based on the recognition of the presence in Belgium of Allied and enemy nationals who should be repatriated.
It is quite understood that the restoration of order in Europe will require some reasonable care and control of displaced persons and refugees after the termination of enemy authority over them, and that, in general, their return to suitable homes in their own countries should be effected as expeditiously as military necessity and political and economic considerations will permit.
1. It is therefore agreed that, subject to such action by SCAEF as the military situation may permit or necessitate and to subsequent
financial adjustments to be agreed upon, the Belgian Government will, within the
limits of their available resources, and in accordance with Government
regulations on matters of repatriation:
a. Limit the movements of displaced persons and refugees to a minimum, through "standstill" instructions, regulation of frontiers, and other appropriate measures, until their repatriation, settlement, or other disposition has been authorized;
b. Provide the necessary care and control of such persons, including medical supervision to prevent epidemics, pending their repatriation or other disposition;
c. Register all displaced persons, including (i) allied nationals (2) enemy nationals, and (3) persons of doubtful, dual, or no nationality, through a standard procedure and on forms provided by SCAEF; such registration record to accompany the displaced persons so registered thereafter on his basic personal record, to his final disposition;
d. Establish Processing Centers for the reception, care and disposition of foreign displaced persons within Belgium, and for the reception of displaced Belgian Nationals from abroad, or for Belgian refugees;
e. Appoint liaison, repatriation or consular officers to be accredited to other allied national authorities, and to military authorities designated by SCAEF (in Germany or elsewhere), to identify and issue visas to their respective nationals, and to facilitate their necessary care, movements and repatriation; and to receive such officers accredited to the Belgian Government by other national authorities;
f. Authorize and facilitate movements into, through, and out of Belgian territory, in accordance with central traffic control requirements, of persons whose repatriation has been approved, or whose movement is required for military purposes, subject to such health or security measures as may have to be taken and admit into Belgium all persons of any or no nationality, displaced by war without discrimination on account of race, religion or political belief.
g. Turn over to SCAEF upon demand, for such disposition as may be determined by competent allied authority, any or all enemy displaced persons, and authorize and facilitate their movement through and exit from Belgium, or other disposition indicated, reserving the right to retain for investigation or trial all persons charged under Belgian law.
h. Cooperate with SCAEF and the national authorities of other allied countries concerned in such other measures as may prove expedient and mutually desirable to effect the purpose above declared.
2. This agreement, made to facilitate the common purpose above declared, is without prejudice to the rights of military necessity, or existing agreements in other matters. It does not apply to prisoners-of-war, who will be the subject of an eventual separate agreement.
3. May I express the hope that SCAEF will give to the Belgian Government and their officials all facilities to get into the Belgian Territory and even outside it as may prove expedient and mutually desirable to effect the above purposes.
ROLE OF SHAEF MISSION TO BELGIUM IN HANDLING THE DP PROBLEM
[SHAEF Directive to AGp's, 30 Sep 44, 2 SHAEF files, G-5/2702/1, DP Branch]
2. Responsibility for the care and eventual repatriation of Displaced Persons in Belgium rests with the Belgian Government.
3. As Displaced Persons are uncovered in military zones, they will be collected, accommodated, and cared for under military arrangements until such time as they can be handed over to the Belgian authorities for disposal.
4. a. The registration of Displaced Persons, a necessary
preliminary to their repatriation, will be undertaken by the Belgians in
accordance with the procedure agreed between Supreme Headquarters, AEF, and
Allied national governments. At a time to be agreed by the Belgian Government
and the Supreme Headquarters, AEF, Mission (Belgium), acting on behalf of
Supreme Headquarters, AEF, instructions will be issued by the Belgian Government
to put this procedure into operation.
b. The Supreme Headquarters, AEF, Mission (Belgium) will be responsible for procuring and issuing to the Belgian Government the necessary forms and instructions.
5. The Supreme Headquarters, AEF, Mission (Belgium), will impress on the Belgian Government the need for Allied Liaison Officers, who are accredited to the Belgian Government for the purpose, having ready access to the centers in which their nationals are accommodated and for being provided with any necessary data concerning them.
IMPATIENCE OF DISPLACED PERSONS; A PROPOSAL FOR CONTROLLED MOVEMENT
[Memo, Brig A. G. Salisbury-Jones, Deputy Chief, DPR&W Branch, G-5, SHAEF, for Gullion, Chief, I-)PR&W Branch, G-5, SHAEF, 9 Oct 44, SHAEF files, G-5/2748/2, DP Branch]
To. . . . We also visited the Assembly Center south of Eindhoven in which were 5 displaced Frenchmen and one Italian. As I had expected, the Frenchmen were in an impatient frame of mind and wondering why they could not be allowed to proceed home under their own arrangements at once. The impatience could not be excused on the ground that the camp was uncomfortable. Indeed it was relatively comfortable; and I cannot express the view too strongly that any attempt to stop young able-bodied Frenchmen from trying to move into France under their own arrangements will cause trouble and discontent. In this view I was strongly supported by Brig. Feildem of the Q Staff of 21 Army Group and also by many others, including the G-5 staff at 12th Army Group. I submit, therefore, that while arrangements must still be made to house and feed displaced persons until transportation arrangements can be made, Army Groups should also legislate for controlled movement by road along routes not used by the armies.
21. d. In view of my experience at the Eindhoven Assembly Center and of the strong views expressed by many others well qualified from experience to advise, I think that Army Groups at their discretion should be encouraged to organize controlled road movement in addition to the normal evacuation by train or other forms of transportation. I consider that this is most important, primarily on psychological grounds. Many of the individuals concerned are young and strong and they have not seen their families for several months. Any attempt therefore to hold them up unduly at the Assembly Center can only lead to disastrous results. The organization of controlled road movement will also relieve congestion in the forward area more quickly and will reduce the demands on transportation resources. ♦ ♦ ♦
IT WILL NOT DO TO SAY: "THESE PEOPLE ARE FRANCE'S RESPONSIBILITY"
[Ltr, Gullion to SCAEF, 24 Oct. 44, SHAEF files, G-5/2772, DP Branch]
6. Here is the grievous situation: There are about 40,000 displaced persons now on the Allied side of the line between Germany and Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. The French have no transportation to move them away from the border; no housing to move them to; and inadequate food and other supplies to take care of them. Transportation, food and supplies can, in a pinch, be diverted by the Army to displaced persons use, but housing in November can not be improvised by the French.
If the 40,000 named above were all, the whole problem would not be insoluble among SHAEF Mission, Communication Zone and the French Government. But for operational reasons, General Montgomery wants to move over 100,000 Dutch civilians, through Belgium, into France. That is but a small fraction of what is to come. At a meeting between representatives of the French Mission, M. Frenay, and of Displaced Persons Branch, it was estimated, from reports received from the G-5's of the Armies and from other sources, that at least 500,000 displaced persons would be shoved out of Germany into Allied
territory during the first month alone, following an all-out, fairly successful drive against Germany.
It will not do to say "These people are France's responsibility. She agreed to take care of them let's hold her to her agreement." The current world and posterity will think that France, Holland and Belgium are doing enough to take care of themselves, and if scores of thousands of Allied displaced persons freeze or starve, the Supreme Commander and his Staff will be held responsible.
The French say they can not handle the problem. G-5 Communication Zone (Brigadier-General Stearns) says that he is utterly without resources to meet the situation.
7. Therefore, I recommend:
(1) That instructions be given to military commanders in Germany that, until further orders, only in cases where successful operation will otherwise be jeopardized, will displaced persons be moved out of Germany.
(2) That a high level conference, consisting of representatives of G-1, G-3, G-4, G-5 and Communication Zone be held at once, with a view to determining whether it is feasible to make plans for the diversion of Allied personnel and resources to care for what may total three quarters of a million people under the circumstances outlined above.
(3) If so, that plans be made.
THE DISPLACED PERSONS PROBLEM SEEMED BEYOND HOPE
[Interv sheet dtd 15 Nov 44, SHAEF files, G-5, Hist Reds, 132.02, SHAEF Mission Belgium]
Capt. committed suicide in Brussels. He was head of the Displaced Persons Branch, G-5 component of the SHAEF Mission to Belgium. With a .45 pistol he shot himself through the heart. Two letters were left, one to his wife, and one to his commanding officer. In both he expressed his despondency over the tremendous problems involved in displaced persons and his inability to see any solution or do anything about them. ♦ ♦ ♦
WITHOUT MILITARY ASSISTANCE, FRENCH WILL BE UNABLE TO COPE WITH THE PROBLEM
[Memo, Brig Gen Stanley R. Mickelsen, Chief, DPR&W Branch, G-5 SHAEF, for Chief Opns Branch, G-5, 8 Dec 44, SHAEF files, G-5/2701/4 DP Branch]
2. The problem of the handling, care and welfare of displaced persons within France is one which is increasing in magnitude with the progress of operations, and which will continue to do so. The responsibility for the control of displaced persons within France is now divided between military commanders in forward areas and the French Government in the Zone of Interior; while Supreme Headquarters, A.E.F. Mission (France) is responsible for coordination. The French Government is doing its utmost to cope with the problem, but, in my opinion, as long as all communications and supplies are controlled by the military, they will be unable to fully meet their responsibility, regardless of the extent of their effort.
3. The original French Border Control Plan, as approved by G-5 Division, called for the assignment of 6 Civil Affairs Detachments to be located at key control points, for the purpose of assisting the French through the establishment of liaison with the military. At that time, it was agreed with Ops [ Opns ] Branch, G-5, that these detachments, totaling 27 officers, would be made available, and would not be removed from France as long as there was an apparent need for their retention. Some of these detachments actually have been deployed while others have not, primarily because the strategic points at which the detachments were to be located were, until recently, in the hands of the enemy. In any case, the efficiency of those deployed has been hampered, because they were not under the control of Supreme Headquarters, A.E.F. Mission (France) the coordinating body for the displaced persons problem within France. ♦ ♦ ♦
3. ALLIED AUTHORITIES MUST TAKE MORE RESPONSIBILITY EVERYWHERE
SHAEF LAYS DOWN A CLEAR-CUT POLICY OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR ASSEMBLY CENTERS
[AG, SHAEF, Directive for All Concerned on Responsibility for Assembly Centres for Displaced Persons and Refugees, 0 Dec 44, SHAEF files, G-5, 17.02, SHAEF Mission Belgium, Final Rpt, pt. 1]
2. Responsibility in Allied Countries.
a. In Interior Zones Allied Governments are wholly responsible. Supreme Headquarters, AEF Missions will, however, advise them and when necessary secure the assistance of military commanders.
b. In Forward Zones military commanders are wholly responsible. However, they may delegate partial responsibility to Allied local authorities as soon as the latter are in a position to assume normal civil governmental activities in any given area. Military commanders will, in such cases, insure that essential transport, accommodation and supplies are available to Allied authorities, with regard both to present needs and estimated future requirements. ♦ ♦ ♦
HOW XX CORPS RETURNED 40,000 EVACUEES TO THEIR HOMES
[Hist Rpt of G-5, XX Corps, for Dec 45, SHAEF files, 244, Third U.S. Army]
3. One of the problems which continues to occupy a high
priority in the activities of this section and the detachments operating under
its control is that of refugees and displaced persons. To appreciate the
importance of this problem one need but consider the total number of refugees
and displaced persons which passed through the XX Corps area to the areas in the
rear. In the period covered by this summary a total of approximately 40,000
French refugees were returned from the forward areas to their homes either
within the Corps area or to the rear of Corps area, of which, approximately 8700
were transported by military transportation. In addition, a total of 2023
displaced persons were transported from within Corps area to displaced persons
assembly centers in the rear.
a. It has been found that the most advantageous way to handle the evacuation of these individuals is as follows:
(1) Upon an area being uncovered by our tactical troops, the American Red Cross Civilian War Relief representative, attached to this section, is dispatched into the area for the purpose of making a survey. Information is obtained by him from Division Military Government Staff Sections, civilian authorities, Civil Affairs/Military Government Detachment Commanders and American Red Cross Civilian War Relief personnel, attached to detachments. This information embodies the numbers present in the area, the facilities locally available to take care of the people and their food and clothing requirements. In addition, information is obtained, in the case of refugees, as to the towns where they formerly resided. A survey is likewise made of these towns to ascertain existing conditions so that an overall picture is obtained. Plans may then be made for the return of refugees as soon as the tactical situation permits. It is important that these surveys be made at the earliest practical moment for to wait until such an evacuation becomes necessary results in confusion and makes such an evacuation almost impossible. Such was the procedure followed by this section during the months of December and it is believed that the results obtained testify to the effectiveness of this plan.
(2) To alleviate the shortage of clothing for French
refugees, approximately sixty (60) tons of American Red Cross clothing were
transported into the area under the supervision of the American Red Cross
Civilian War Relief representative, attached to this section. This clothing has
been deposited in various warehouses throughout the Department of Moselle and
was and will be distributed by the French Red Cross and Secour Social Teams on a
b. In addition to the regular refugees and displaced persons problems as we had previously known them, two new ones presented themselves in our area.
(1) One was the existence of two separate caves located in Buren and Linsdorf, Germany, wherein some 3000 German refugees, who had refused to evacuate their towns on orders of the German officials, had sought protection from the artillery shelling. Inasmuch as both of these caves were in division areas the immediate responsibility for handling these people rested with the divisions operating in the respective areas. However, a Civil Affairs Detachment was dispatched by this section for the purpose of assisting in the care of these people so that they would not become a hindrance to the tactical forces. The people were kept in the Buren Cave for approximately three weeks at which time it was
decided, because of the tactical situation, to evacuate them to towns in the rear of the division areas. During the time that these people were confined in the caves, they were under guard. However, individuals were permitted to return under guard to the towns from which they had fled for the purpose of gathering food supplies and baking bread. At the close of the period no evacuation had been made of the Linsdorf Cave and the people were being cared for and supervised by personnel of the 95th Infantry Division Military Government Staff Section, assisted by Detachment C2D2.
(2) This section during the early part of the month also temporarily maintained a detachment at the Johannis Bannberg Hospital, Denting, France, and at a hospital at Creutzwald, both of which had been used by the Germans as Prisoners of War Hospitals. At the time of their retreat from the area they abandoned the hospitals leaving behind some 2100 Russian, Polish and Serb Prisoners of War. Until it was definitely determined by higher authority as to whether these people were to be handled by the G-5 Section as displaced persons or by G-1 as Prisoners of War, Detachment C2D2 was in charge of the two camps. Third U.S. Army eventually determined that they would be handled as Prisoners of War and a Medical Detachment was dispatched from Third U.S. Army to relieve Detachment C2D2 and assume the care of these individuals. All of the patients were eventually evacuated to Toul. When these camps were uncovered it was found that the greater number of these patients were suffering from tuberculosis and in addition were suffering greatly from malnutrition. It can be expected that as our lines move forward more of these camps will be uncovered and it appears that this is another of the enemy's efforts to place in our path obstacles which will require a considerable amount of time and personnel. Information received indicates that the Germans in retreating would compel those prisoners of war who were capable of marching to accompany the German evacuation and would leave the bed-ridden and ill Prisoners of War behind.
c. Another problem which presented itself during the month of December was the decision of 9oth Infantry Division to evacuate all civilians from a strip of land in its forward area. A similar situation confronted us previous to the attack on Metz, namely the evacuation of towns along the west side of the Moselle River, so that such an evacuation was not a new experience for this section. Accordingly, a Military Government Detachment was dispatched to Niedaltdorf, Germany, the town in which it was decided to segregate these civilians. Motor transportation ;vas obtained from the French Provisional Truck Company attached to Third U.S. Army and with the assistance of Military Government Detachments I5G2 and I1A2, approximately 3000 persons had been evacuated to Niedaltdorf at the close of the period. The evacuation of the town of Borg, Germany, had to be carried out entirely at night because of enemy mortar and artillery fire.
d. To assist in the return of French refugees to the Thionville and Metz areas, transitory refugee points were operated at both of the aforesaid towns, utilizing in addition to Civil Affairs personnel, personnel of French MMLA Teams. At these two transitory points, refugees arriving late in the day can be cared for overnight until arrangements are made for return to their residences. French Red Cross and French MMLA personnel were also utilized to good advantage in arranging to have refugees in a town ready for evacuation when the transport arrives. Valuable transport time is saved in this manner.
5. Closely allied with the refugee and displaced persons problem was that of restricting civilian circulation on the highways in the Corps area. The limitation of Civil Affairs circulation passes to a minimum does not of itself solve the question of keeping civilians off the road. It has been found necessary and is the practice of this section to have an officer make daily reconnaissance over the various military highways for the purpose of obtaining first hand information on the civilian circulation situation. As a result of the information obtained through this means the source of this unauthorized civilian traffic can be traced and steps are then immediately taken to remedy the fault wherever it may be. Through co-operation with French civilian authorities, French Gendarmes were secured and placed at strategic points for the purpose of denying the use of the highways to unauthorized civilians. This system serves as a security measure in addition to being an aid in the control of civilian circulation. As a further aid in the control of civilian circulation, arrangements were made for a French Civilian Summary Court to be established in Metz for the purpose of prosecuting violators of circulation restrictions. ♦ ♦ ♦
MILITARY AID IN ESTABLISHING FRENCH RECEPTION CENTERS
[Directive From SHAEF to the AGp's, CG, ComZ, ETO and SHAEF Mission France, 17 Feb 45, SHAEF files, G-5/2701/4, DP Branch]
1. Past experience has indicated the necessity of rapidly clearing displaced persons from opera-
tional areas and it is anticipated that the numbers of such persons to be moved for operational reasons will increase with major advances of Allied Expeditionary Forces into Germany. In addition, it is the agreed policy between this headquarters and the French Government that French displaced persons uncovered within Germany be repatriated to France as soon as possible, consistent with military commitments. The French Government, as part of its responsibility for the care, welfare and repatriation of displaced persons who may trek across the frontiers, or who may be returned from Germany to France by military authorities, plans to establish reception centers, supply depots and rail transit centers near the Franco-German, Franco Belgium and Franco-Luxembourg frontiers.
2. The French Reception Control Plan has been approved by this headquarters and envisages the establishment of 21 reception centers, 5 supply depots and 4 rail transit centers. . . . [locations omitted] ♦ ♦ ♦
3. Reception centers indicated above are designated to accommodate 40,000 people and to be able to clear half this number to the rear daily. The four rail transit centers should be capable each of clearing 3,000 persons daily rearwards. The French Government has taken necessary action to organize administrative staffs to operate all of the above centers and have requested that Army Group Commanders and Commanding General, Communications Zone, deploy Civil Affairs personnel to act as advisers and as liaison officers between local representatives of the French Ministry of Prisoners of War, Deportees and Refugees and their respective military units.
4. Army Group Commanders and Commanding General,
Communications Zone, are directed to take the following action:
a. To detail Civil Affairs Detachments to each of the supply depots indicated above as soon as such depots are established; such detachments to advise and assist French personnel charged with the responsibility of administering and operating supply depots; where necessary, detail such other Civil Affairs personnel as are required to reception centers and rail transit centers to perform liaison between local officials and the military on matters of supply, transportation and accommodation. The minimum scale of personnel recommended for these details is as follows
(1) For supply depots-Civil Affairs detachments consisting of 2 officers and 3 enlisted men;
(2) For all other centers-I officer and 2 enlisted men.
b. Consistent with military requirements, to give every assistance to the French in the establishment of the reception centers, supply depots and rail transit centers in the locations set forth in paragraph 2 above. A survey of the facilities needed will be made at the earliest possible date by representatives of the French Ministry of Prisoners of War, Deportees and Refugees, Supreme Headquarters, AEF, Mission (France), Communications Zone and representatives of the Army Group Commander in whose zone of responsibility such facilities are located. Agreement will be reached as to what facilities not now requisitioned can be earmarked for the French, what facilities already requisitioned can be released at once to the French and what facilities already requisitioned can be released on 10 days' notice when their actual use for displaced persons become necessary. In the event that release of a given facility desired by the French is not acquiesced in, the matter will be referred by Supreme Headquarters, AEF, Mission (France) to this headquarters for decision. Once the earmarking or release of facilities for the French Reception Control Plan has been agreed upon, British/U.S. Forces will not requisition such facilities except where urgent military necessity so dictates.
c. Supplies procured by the French and moved to the above supply depots will not be requisitioned for military use except when urgently required for emergency military needs. In such event, arrangements to insure immediate replacement will be made.
d. Civil Affairs officers detailed to the above duties will be instructed to screen and report to the next higher headquarters all requirements needed by the French from military sources. ♦ ♦ ♦
DISPLACED PERSONS POUR THROUGH BELGIUM IN MARCH 1945
[Ltr, 1st Lt. R. U. Ricklefs to Capt E. M. M. Warburg, DP Branch, 13 Mar 45, SHAEF files, G-5/2702/1, DP Branch]
1. What's happening:
The flow of DP's from the EAST is as follows:
a. Belgians are returning at the rate of 150 a day-OK.
b. French are passing through en route to France at the rate of about 200 a day (Brussels alone)-OK.
c. Eastern Europeans and Italians are pouring in at the rate of 500 a day, have filled the centres established by the Belgians to overflowing and are being housed in facilities set up temporarily, mostly by the Belgians.
2. What's being done about it:
a. By the Belgians
(i) Every emergency thrust at the Commissariat has been met.
(ii) More than 5,000 Eastern Europeans and Italians as of this date are being housed, fed, and cared for entirely by Belgian agencies.
(iii) Schools have been closed in the morning in order to accommodate Russians arriving from the army areas that same evening.
(iv) Equipment was drawn from existing centres and various stockpiles to equip a centre at Louvain to accommodate an anticipated flow from the 21 Army Group Forward Zone (which has never shown up) of Russians, Poles and Western Europeans at the request of the 21 Army Group, even through the CBR [Commissariat Beige au Repatriement] objected to the selection of Louvain as a reception centre.
b. By 21st Army Group
(i) Located a detachment at Louvain to assist in the preparation of the projected centre there; reported assistance is slight.
(ii) Located a CA detachment at 97 Rue de Stall, Uccle, to assist in the preparations of the projected reception-assembly centre, slight assistance reported.
(iii) Furnished two trucks on 12 March to move Russians from an emergency centre in Brussels to the centres in Lembeke and Tourneppe.
(iv) Operate a transit camp for Dutch at Termonde (through which stray Dutch nationals are billeted on the Belgians).
(v) Not one displaced person of any nationality is being cared for by the 21st Army Group.
c. By the U.S. Army Formations
(i) Operate reception centre at Verviers through which all DP's from the US forward areas are processed and dispersed.
(ii) CA detachments in ASCZ have established in conjunction with CBR a number of centres in that zone and are helping meet the emergency flow in all respects.
(iii) CA, Channel Base Sector, is active in establishing new centres, but has no personnel and must rely entirely upon the Belgians; CBS [or CBR?] has furnished much food and equipment.
3. What should be done about it:
a. The flow of Eastern Europeans into Belgium should stop.
b. The Eastern Europeans, Italians and Germans now in Belgium should be taken over immediately and completely as a military responsibility.
NOTE.-The excuse of no personnel is stupid in the face of the millions who will have to be handled in Germany with existing CA military personnel.
c. The Commissariat Beige au Repatriement should concentrate its efforts entirely in the preparation of adequate facilities for the reception and repatriation of Western Europeans, soon to come in very large numbers.
d. Facilities for 20,000 DP's-divided approximately equal between the British and American Zones-should be made available to the Belgians for the use of Western Europeans. ♦ ♦ ♦
4. THE RECEPTION PLAN IS CHANGED IN THE LAST PHASE OF HOSTILITIES
BORDER RECEPTION PLAN REVISED AFTER THE ARMIES ENTER GERMANY
[AAR of CA/MG in OVERLORD and ECLIPSE Opns, 1944 45, sec. X, SHAEF files, G-5, Hq 12th AGp]
17. In the period of planning before "D" day, the French authorities had prepared a plan for border reception facilities. This was largely based on the assumption that a surrender would take place before our Armies entered Germany. In December 1944, it became apparent that such would not be the case, and this headquarters recommended through Supreme Headquarters, AEF, Mission to France that the plan be revised accordingly. This revision became effective in March 1945.
18. The original plan had disposed French border reception centers laterally, on the assumption that there would be a great deal of road movement and a minimum of rail movement. The revision recommended was on the basis that there would be little convoy movement, and that
rail movement would be restricted to the comparatively few main lines which would be rebuilt after inevitable damage by combat. The latter proved substantially to be the case. The French authorities established automatic daily quotas for the, reception centers, notifying Armies weekly of any changes. However, no distinction was made at these reception centers between recovered allied military personnel (French) and displaced persons. Accordingly, a clear coordination was not had in every case for movement from these two sources, with the result That the French authorities were faced with duplicate arrivals at their reception centers. The matter was finally adjusted by instructions of higher authority which placed on G-5, this headquarters, the task of coordinating movements of all returning personnel whether recovered allied military personnel or displaced persons. Tribute must be paid to the extraordinary adaptability of the French authorities by which they handled all shipments of either nature which actually arrived. At the close of the period, it was found that more than 1,200,000 French citizens had passed through these centers, uniformly gratified by the fact that they had been returned to their homeland. ♦ ♦ ♦
COMBAT FORCES OVERBURDEN RECEPTION CENTERS WITH DISPLACED PERSONS
[Hist Rpt, 1-31 May 45, SHAEF G-5, 17.04, SHAEF Mission, Fr]
Still imbued with consciousness of the urgency of repatriating the many thousands of DP's in Germany, the Army Groups tended to send them towards the nearest French processing point by trainloads. Telegrams giving Border Reception Center daily capacities were still being sent each week to Army Groups by the D.P. R&W. Section, hopeful that the Army Groups would not seriously overburden the centers by throwing in trainloads of DP's above the handling capacity of the centers.
But the French Ministry of Prisoners, Deportees and Refugees (PRD) had a plan to smooth out these obstacles to rapid repatriation. It proposed to establish movement controllers at four points near the French border (Valenciennes, Mezieres, Metz and Sarrebourg). Given direct two-way communication with the Army Groups and the processing centers, and working closely with military and French civil transportation authorities, these movement controllers would, it was planned, route incoming convoys of DP's to those centers able to deal with the number in each convoy.
In the first half of the month [May 19451 this plan was being examined by the 21st, 12th and 6th Army Groups.
Border Reception Center capacity at the beginning of May was 34,350 daily, while the provisional center in Paris could process each day another 8,000. With total daily handling capacity thus 42,350 there seemed to be a fair margin over the actual daily intake of 20,000 Dp's. By the beginning of the second half of the month total daily capacity was increased to 54,700.
But the numbers of persons repatriated was rising. The total for the month of March (34,607) shot up to 262,197 for the month of April. Obviously, post-menstrual calculation of daily averages was meaningless in relation to the actual number inflicted on any one day. For instance, in one twelve-hour period early in May the Reception Centers at Jeumont, Maubuege and Valenciennes which could handle between them only 5,000 a day, received 11,700 and had eight trainloads of 11,500 more moving rapidly to the 1,000 a day center at Jeumont.
Last minute re-routing of the trains to Paris saved the day, thanks to Mission and Communications Zone. ♦ ♦ ♦
LIBERATION: ASSUMPTIONS AND REALITY
[The Gen Bd USFET, Study No. 35: DP's, Refugees and Recovered Allied Mil Personnel]
3. . . . Implicit in the planning for care and control of displaced persons was the assumption that the individuals would be tractable, grateful and powerless, after their domination from two to five years as the objects of German slave policies. They were none of these things. Their intractability took the form of what was referred to repeatedly by officers in contact with them as "Liberation Complex." This involved revenge, hunger, and exultation, which three qualities combined to make displaced persons, when newly liberated, a problem as to behavior and conduct, as well as for care, feeding, disinfectation, registration, and repatriation. During the combat phase, this problem assumed critical proportions at times. ♦ ♦ ♦
MASSIVE REPATRIATION BEGINS OF WESTERN EUROPEANS LIBERATED IN GERMANY
[Brig Gen. Cuthbert P. Stearns, G-5, ETOUSA, Rpt, Civil Affairs Activities of ETOUSA, 30 Jun 45 CAD files, 319.1, CA Sec. 5, 30 Jun 45]
♦ ♦ ♦ Evacuation from Germany of DP's for military necessity: March 1945 saw the envelopment of Germany by military operations and an-
other 32,754 were added to the roster of displaced persons in the Communications Zone. These persons were moved out of Germany to the rear as the spectacular advance of our armies uncovered them. This burden, made necessary by the limited space available in Germany during initial stages of the advance, had not been contemplated in original plans, and it was impossible to forecast the number involved on the basis of factual intelligence. Nevertheless, prompt estimates were made and proved to be almost exact (40,000); responsibilities were allocated among the subordinate commands and accommodations and care were provided promptly and with a minimum of confusion.
a. French Border Control Stations: Massive repatriation of Western Europeans liberated in Germany began on 12 March 1945. Prior to this date the French and Belgian Governments, in collaboration with G-5, prepared a program of repatriation through border control installations located at points along their frontiers.
It was of first importance to the Communications Zone to see that this border control system functioned smoothly. Any breakdown in the system would have constituted a potential or actual threat to military operations. Civil Affairs officers and enlisted personnel were deployed, therefore, to these border control installations in a liaison capacity to assist the French in procuring installations, equipment, supplies, transportation and other aids.
By V-E Day approximately 800,000 Western Europeans had been repatriated, of which one half million were French. They came by plane, by train, by truck convoy, on bicycles and on foot, carrying or pushing their poor pitiful possessions accumulated through the years of slavery and confinement by the Nazis. At the border control stations each individual was registered, photographed, screened for security, bathed, X-rayed, disinfected, given ration cards, identity papers and money for immediate need; if ragged he was clothed, if sick, he was hospitalized. The border control stations, working around the clock cleared a repatriate and started him toward his home within a few hours.
This has been due in great part to the expert seconding by the Civil Affairs liaison teams; thus the French were able to accomplish the gigantic task of repatriating a million and a quarter men and women in three months' time (as of June 30 1945). Hundreds of thousands of Belgians and Dutch have, in like manner, been returned to their homelands.
b. Repatriation of those who became a military responsibility: Displaced persons maintained in Communications Zone as a military responsibility have included Russians, Poles, Czechs, Jugoslavs, Esthonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks, Italians, Latin-Americans and even some Chinese.
The Russians were moved eastward to the border of the Russian-American zone of occupation in Germany. At the border they were turned over to representatives of their countries. The Italians and Greeks were carried to the seaport of Marseilles and thence repatriated to their respective countries. Plans were made for the repatriation of all possible in connection with which every means of transportation has been and will be used-airlift, train, ship and truck.
c. Problem Nationals: In the very large family of displaced persons there are those members who require special care. These are the non-repatriables, who for political or other reasons, must be maintained until decisions are reached between governments as to their ultimate disposition. The Poles, the nationals of the Baltic States, the Jugoslavs and the Spaniards will remain the wards of the Army until such time as they can either be repatriated to their countries of origin or turned over to the governments of the countries in which they are located. ♦ ♦ ♦
Return to the Table of Contents
Last updated 18 February 2004